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Bloomberg on Oil Dependence: Punditry or Policy?

9:38 AM EDT on August 7, 2006

The Daily News reports that Mayor Bloomberg made his first public statements about U.S. oil dependency on his radio show last week:

This constant dependence on oil is something that leaves this country vulnerable every day. Two reasons. One, what happens if it gets cut off overseas? We're never going to have enough capacity domestically. And, two, where are these petro dollars going? They are going to buy arms for terrorists who are going to attack freedom around the world and, as 9/11 showed, they can attack here as well.

While Streetsblog leans towards global climate change and local quality of life as the more compelling reasons for New York City to care about reducing petroleum consumption, it's great to hear Bloomberg talking about the oil dependence issue.

Still, you've got to wonder how the Mayor connects his personal views to his day job. Bloomberg isn't a radio host, blogger or pundit. He doesn't have to sit behind a microphone or computer monitor and kvetch. He is the Mayor of New York City. He can do something about this problem.

With the stroke of a pen, the Mayor could put in place a number transportation and land use policies that would significantly reduce New York City's automobile dependence and petroleum consumption. And with some more serious political arm-twisting, Bloomberg could probably implement far-reaching traffic-reduction measures similar to what is being tried in London and Paris. Yet, New York City has no long-term transportation vision or stategy. Aside from highly localized projects in places like Staten Island and Downtown Brooklyn, Mayor Bloomberg's Department of Transportation is doing little to address the city's growing traffic congestion problem.

Streetsblog is hoping that this is all part of Bloomberg's Autumn 2006 strategy. He is talking about the petroleum-terrorism connection to help prepare car-dependent Outer Borough New Yorkers for a far-reaching transportation strategy that will, in part, make it less convenient to drive into the city. They'll be more willing to take the hit because they will be made to feel like they aiding America's national security.

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